Business barometer Education work holds Willmott Dixon in top spot as government projects decline

Construction work fell by 22% last month as the proportion of public work continued to slide. Without civils, government projects accounted for 36% of all work, down from
45% in October.

Willmott Dixon led the contractors’ pack for the second month running after securing a handful of public sector jobs, including a £27.1m contract to build Oakfield Community College in Middlesbrough.

Large education deals also helped Balfour Beatty and Morgan Sindall climb up the table. Balfour signed up for a £55m BSF project for Derby council, taking it five places up the table to third, and Morgan Sindall won a £17.8m job for Brighton university, bumping it up six places to fourth.

But Tony Williams, an analyst at Building Value, expressed caution. “Once the public sector cuts start to bite I think we will see a quiet winter period. Willmott Dixon is very lucky. They’re a good outfit and privately owned which often helps. Let’s just hope it’s profitable work.”

Total value of work held up better last month, dropping only 10% from 2009, compared with October’s fall of over a fifth. However, the average project value plummeted by over a third from £4.3m to £3.1m over the course of the year.

Big-ticket private projects continued to arrest the decline. Notable schemes included a £16m, 174-bed hotel for Hotel La Tour to be built in Birmingham by Galliford Try. Strong performance in the commercial sector in London also continued with confirmation of a Bam Construct project to build a new office complex for Daejan Investments. And the green sector was given a boost as Sisk scooped a £30m wind turbine scheme for Scottish Power Renewables.

Balfour Beatty continued to dominate the annual rolling leader board, with more than double the value of projects of its nearest rival, Morgan Sindall.




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